Month-long interscholastic energy challenge complete
Submitted by Shawn Reeves
Thirty-one independent schools from Maine to Florida competed in the Green Cup Challenge this year. The school that decreases its energy consumption the most between (as measured by percent change in campus-wide electricity use) wins the so-called Green Cup.
The school finishing in second place this year, The Governor's Academy (TGA), in northeastern Massachusetts, completed conducting dry-run, inter-dorm challenges for the months of December and January in preparation for participation in the Interscholastic Green Cup Challenge this winter. For the each of the two months leading up to the challenge, the best performing dormitories at TGA were awarded pizza parties. The dorm with the greatest reduction (percentage) in its consumption during the final two weeks of the Green Cup Challenge compared to the first two weeks, won a Nintendo Wii. Also, a special prize was offered at TGA for the dorm that consistently reduced its usage every week of the challenge.
The Govs Go Green Committee is the organization in charge of watching student behavior and measuring electricity use at TGA. English teacher Chris Rokous began the organization by asking students as a fall class was let out, "Anyone interested in getting the ball rolling [on a group to green the campus]?" says student and member Caitlin Kelliher. The committee has electricity consumption numbers for each dorm from the years 2005, 2006, and 2007. Electricity use in dorms was measured in December and compared with the average of the previous three Decembers. The same procedure was used January and February.
The intra-campus February contests certainly helped the school's larger effort in the Green Cup Challenge. The numbers submitted for the GCC include the "whole campus" consumption for the month of February. This aggregate number includes only campus buildings that have not been altered during the past three years. All participating schools have separated out new buildings from totals until they have accumulated three years worth of statistics, to determine a baseline with which to compare a given year's numbers.
Because most electricity is consumed in the dorms, everyone's participation in the conservation effort is crucial. Mr. Rokous asked all students, "Please make an individual effort to help to earn your dorm some prizes and maybe some GCC recognition/prizes for your school. I don't really need to go into the environmental impact of your efforts except to say that you and your behavior truly matter."
Students from all participating schools have produced videos touting existing efforts to reduce energy use, encouraging more students to participate in the challenge, and clearly having fun:
To kick off the challenge at Groton School, as at other schools, students signed pledges with individual plans for reducing energy consumption. You can see Groton students signing pledges in their video. Students also sent delegates to a conference at participant Northfield Mount Hermon School. TGA students shared a bus to Northfield with close sports-rival Brooks School, a chance to consider a more cooperative form of competition, where everyone wished everyone else got as many points as imaginable.
Phillips Exeter Academy, in Exeter, NH, reduced their electricity use by 4.3% this time, saving over $5,000. Exeter's video was a lengthy and sometimes tongue-in-cheek study of attitudes towards conservation on campus. The total savings for all the participating schools was more than $83,000, thus emitting 583 less metric tons of carbon dioxide. TGA junior Kelliher says that she hopes that the challenge is institutionalized for younger students, so that every year the school reduces its carbon footprint more and more. This time around, TGA saved over $5300, reducing its consumption by 21.03%. It will be difficult to repeat the feat next year, since the baseline will then include this year's reduced measurements. Saint Paul's in Concord, NH incurred the most absolute savings, reducing their electricity bill by more than $13,000. But, Berkshire School of Sheffield, MA, reduced its electricity consumption by a proportion slightly higher than TGA, 21.05%, winning the Green Cup.
Dick Savage, Chief Financial Officer at TGA, says that the cost savings there will help offset unforeseen cost increases. Their dollar per kilowatt-hour rate is fixed until June 2011, so costs avoided thanks to this effort will be plowed into other operating expenses, in a small way staving off tuition increases.
Participants included: Berkshire School, in Sheffield, MA; Brooks School, in North Andover, MA; Cheshire Academy, in Cheshire, CT; Choate Rosemary Hall, in Wallingford, CT; Darrow School, in New Lebanon, NY; Deerfield Academy, in Deerfield, MA; Eaglebrook School, in Deerfield; The Ethel Walker School, in Simsbury, CT; Green Mountain Valley School, in Waitsfield, VT; The Governors Academy, in Byfield, MA; Groton School, in Groton, MA; The Hill School, in Pottstown, PA; Holderness School, in Holderness, NH; The Hotchkiss School, in Lakeville, CT; The Kent School, in Kent, CT; The Lawrenceville School, in Lawrenceville, NJ; Maine Coast Semester, in Wiscasset, ME; Mercersburg Academy, in Mercersburg, PA; Millbrook School, in Millbrook, NY; Northfield Mt. Hermon School, in Northfield, MA; Phillips Academy, in Andover, MA; Phillips Exeter Academy; Proctor Academy, in Andover, NH; The Putney School, in Putney, VT; St. George's School, in Newport, RI; Stoneleigh-Burnham, in Greenfield, MA; St. Andrew's School, in Middletown, DE; St. Paul's School, in Concord, NH; Westminster School, in Simsbury, CT; Wilbraham & Monson Academy, in Wilbraham, MA; The Williston Northampton School, in East Hampton, MA; and Worcester Academy, in Worcester, MA.
Compiled with help from Judy Klein, Communications, The Governors Academy.
For more information on the Green Cup Challenge:
More information can be found on each participating school at:
Each school's GCC video can be seen at:
To learn about the Green Cup Challenge, contact PEA Sustainability Coordinator Jennifer Wilhelm at (603) 777-3765.